Howard Dean, Miro Weinberger rule out runs for governor of Vermont

By SARAH MEARHOFF

VTDigger

Published: 05-20-2024 4:05 PM

Two prominent Vermont Democrats who had floated the prospect of challenging Republican Gov. Phil Scott this November have decided against it.

Former Gov. Howard Dean and former Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger both announced Monday they would not run for office this fall. With just 10 days remaining before the deadline to appear on Vermont’s primary election ballot, that leaves Vermont Democrats without a well-known candidate to take on the incumbent Republican.

Dean announced his intentions at a press conference Monday morning at the Waterbury town offices. Even as he began speaking — thanking supporters for collecting signatures and raising money to “build a campaign from nothing” — it was unclear whether he would join the race or not. Then he let the trial balloon pop. “I am not a candidate for the office of governor,” Dean said.

The Burlington Democrat called it a “winnable race,” saying that polling showed him getting within 10 percentage points of Scott. But to prevail, he said, he would have to wage a “scorched earth” campaign with negative attack ads. He said that such a race would be bad for the state and not the Vermont way.

“I am not interested in doing this for the debate,” he said. “I’m interested in winning.”

Dean, 75, said he would work hard to support the Democratic nominee for governor this year and suggested it should be someone younger than he is.

On Monday afternoon, Weinberger said that he, too, would not take on Scott. In a written statement, he said he was “committed to doing what (he) can to forge further progress on housing, climate and other urgent challenges.” However, he said, “I do not intend to be a candidate for public office this fall.”

Thus far, the only declared Democratic gubernatorial candidate is Esther Charlestin, a Middlebury, Vt., educator and consultant.

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Scott announced earlier this month that he would seek a fifth two-year term as governor.